We’ve all got skirting boards at home, but do you ever think about why?
Today’s post is a little bit different. I love looking at how trends change through the ages. What we see as a necessity now wasn’t 50 years ago, and might not be in another 50.
It’s currently normal to have all your walls plastered, but in the future this might not be the case, and they may go to plain brick or something else entirely.
So this got me thinking about what skirting boards actually are, what they’re for, and why we have them in our homes.
Where It All Starts
The Georgians (1714-1836) loved decor. They loved all things ornate, decorative and just beautiful.
The Georgians often panelled their walls. Before the Georgians, it was typical for walls to be panelled from floor to ceiling. However, the Georgians began to use dado rails. Because chairs were placed around the room, and not around the dining table, they often found that the chairs rubbed and left marks against the wall. Dado rails were introduced to stop this from happening.
This meant panelling came up to the dado rail, around 3 feet off the floor. However, the mouldings don’t stop here. Ceilings would often have intricate ribbons and swags. They also had large decorative cornices.
Georgian skirting board was thick and ornate. It was a protective barrier to stop the walls getting scuffed, but also to prevent damp from rising up. Nowadays, we use it much more as a decorative effect to finish a room off.
The Victorians preferred to place their chairs around their tables, thereby getting rid of the dado rail. However, picture rails were still very popular, as was large skirting board. It was almost like the bigger the skirting, the better off you were.
This mean that skirting was still a necessary feature, one that showed off your wealth and your style. If you own and are renovating a Victorian townhouse, I urge you to install features that are in keeping with the house. This means keeping those chunky skirting boards. They’re typical of the time, and personally, I love them.
Gradually, skirting board has shrunk further over time. The Victorians had extra high ceilings, which meant the large skirting didn’t look out of place. But now our room sizes and ceiling sizes have shrunk. Today, the plainer the skirting board, the better. Some people are even painting their skirting anything other than white. It could be made to match the colour of the walls, or contrast it in some way.
We’ve almost got rid of picture rails all together, and I can’t remember the last time I saw a dado rail (though I think they have one in my dentist to stop the chairs rubbing on the wall!).
Our homes are being built much smaller now than ever before, so picture rails and decorate ceilings just can’t be included. Partly for cost, partly because it would look ridiculous.
So there you have it. Now you know all about skirting board and how it has changed over time.